The photo below is more than simply wood and epoxy taking shape. It is a dream becoming reality!
I never forget, not for a minute, that Tòti Bleu began with zero funds and very little possibility of becoming reality. Our dear friend Leo said, “Just begin”, and so we did. We had no knowledge of building a gypsy wagon, nor of driving a horse. The many surprises and gifts since that beginning have been unbelievable.
The past months have brought friends, new knowledge, laughter and many surprises. With the help of a wonderful friend I was able to visit thé factory in Poland and order the chassis exactly to my specifications. A lovely Comtois mare, Vanille, appeared next door and her owner has been happy to teach us all we need to know about horse power, and he is a gifted teacher! There are the new and old friends that have brought new knowledge and valuable gifts, and the visitors who have given us courage to continue. Friends have offered money, tools, needed information and a workspace. Mark and I have learned that although it is not always easy to work together on a project, our talents are complementary. This has brought us closer together and deepened our understanding of each other. Tòti is far from finished but it is taking shape and that is already a miracle.
The walls are glued together with epoxy resin. The housing is bolted to the metal chassis and glued with marine Sikaflex. Figuring out how to do the assembling and the fixation to the chassis took some hours of concentrated planning but after Mark had decided on a plan, the two of us did it all in one day. Mark has cut the roof beams to length, positioned them carefully in place and marked each one for the final gluing to the side roof structure. The roof will be finished very soon!
We are testing the power required to pull Tòti, and the pulling power of Vanille with a dynamometre. I will write more about this at a later time. It is very new to me and I am trying to understand it. I only know that the end result will give us a better idea of the horse power needed to comfortably travel with Tòti. My hope is that one horse will be sufficient but I also want to be very careful in our choice of horse or horses.
We are still spending many beautiful hours travelling the forest trails in the small four wheel “caleche” pulled by Vanille. The hours pass like minutes and I am unimaginably happy during these moments. Vanille listens to me better now and responds to my commands. I am learning to do a U turn in a small space and to use the brakes.
My harnessing skills are improving.
Harnessing has been a real challenge for me. A saddle and bridle is so much simpler.
I have much to say about this Comtois mare, Vanille. She is a beauty, but her beauty is more than just good conformation or a shiny coat. There is a calm intelligence that shines through her eyes, and the attitude in her body language tells me that she is brave, thoughtful, and gentle. She is a very special being. Her sensitivity is amazing. She pays attention to everything but once she has become acquainted with something new or a bit scarey, she knows it and doesn't bother with it a second time. Most of all, her willingness to work, her joy to work is evident. She loves it and she is extremely strong. She loves the contact with us and trusts us. It is also obvious that she has been lovingly trained and cared for. I am so very small beside her and she is so careful with me. How blessed I am to have the time with her!